Dylan McDermott is done practicing the law and ready to keep the order, as an elite undercover cop on the new TNT drama Dark Blue (premiering Wednesday at 10 pm/ET).
Tackling the gritty and at times morally gray fare is part of a calculated plan by the actor to leave his righteous and sharp-dressed alter ego from The Practice behind him.
"People were used to seeing me as Bobby Donnell or some guy in a suit," McDermott says. "This is a radically different character. But I think that enough time has passed that audiences will accept me in this role."
In the name of shaking up his image, McDermott took a small first step playing a cad on ABC's Big Shots. But Dark Blue promises to move the needle much further.
McDermott plays Carter Shaw, the leader of an undercover squad populated by Omari Hardwick (Saved), Logan Marshall-Green (Traveler) and Nicky Aycox (Supernatural). "He is obviously a person who has enormous demons and is struggling on many different levels. But at the same time he's a tremendous cop," says the actor. "You know he gets the job done and that he does stuff that nobody else will. That, to me, was probably the most intriguing part of playing this role."
Helping McDermott go dark are prolific producer Jerry Bruckheimer, director Danny Cannon (CSI) and writer-producer Doug Jung (Big Love) — an elite team in and of themselves. With them shepherding the series, "I thought that this was a perfect opportunity for me to maybe do something a little different," McDermott says.
Still, there's no getting away from who McDermott is, at least on the surface. So there is the chance that no matter how hard he tries, the mantle of Prettiest Undercover Cop in TV History may be his to carry.
"Oh, I hope not," McDermott says of bearing such a label. "No, I really have worked hard with Carter to make him as beat-up as I can."